De Vries and Walters out in front

Floris de Vries and Justin Walters took huge steps towards places at the Open Championship after carding seven under par 64s in the first of two rounds of International Final Qualifying from Africa, which began in Johannesburg today.

Floris de Vries and Justin Walters took huge steps towards places at the Open Championship after carding seven under par 64s in the first of two rounds of International Final Qualifying from Africa, which began in Johannesburg today.

The pair established a five-shot advantage over their closest challengers at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club’s east course.

Home favourite Martin Maritz and Andrew Marshall of England headed the chasing pack after rounds of 69, but both appear now to be playing for third place along with those immediately behind them.

The top three over 36 holes will earn a place in the field that will line-up in golf’s oldest major at Royal St George’s from 13-17 July.

South African Walters missed the cut on the same course during the past weekend’s Joburg Open, but bounced back in style.

The 30-year-old, who is based in Manchester, recorded two eagles, four birdies and a solitary bogey in his round.

Dutchman De Vries, 21, finished in a tie for 13th place at the weekend and his round included eight birdies and a bogey.

Neither has qualified for the tournament previously.

Elsewhere, five South Africans – Oliver Bekker, Neil Schietekat, Louis de Jager, Tyrone van Aswegen, Jacques Blaauw – were eight shots of the pace after rounds of one under 70.

Six players withdrew from the 39-man field and will not take part tomorrow.

They were South Africans Anton Haig, Branden Grace, Louis Moolman, Jakobus Roos, Garth Mulroy and Divan van den Heever.

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